Intel chief Coats establishes election security adviser position

Intel chief Coats establishes election security adviser position
© Greg Nash

The intelligence community has crafted a position to oversee threats to election security, officials announced Friday, the latest effort to shore up security heading into the 2020 presidential elections.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Daniel Coats has appointed Shelby Pierson to serve as the first “election threats executive” (ETE), tasking her to be the intelligence community's “principal advisor” on election security threats.

Pierson served as the crisis manager for election security for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the 2018 midterm elections, and has worked in the intelligence community for more than 20 years.

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Coats praised Pierson and said her “knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission.”

The DNI noted in a statement that “Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC [intelligence community]. In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue.”

Along with establishing the new position, Coats also directed all intelligence agencies that have a role in securing elections to designate a lead executive to work with the ETE to help coordinate election security efforts for the administration.

Additionally, Coats announced that Pierson will chair the newly formed IC Election Executive and Leadership Board, which will serve as the primary lead for coordinating election security programs on behalf of the intelligence community. The board will be made up of senior executives from the intelligence sector and from all relevant U.S. government organizations.

The decision comes months after Coats testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that “our adversaries and strategic competitors probably already are looking to the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests,” specifically pointing to threats to elections from Russia, China and Iran.

The move also comes amid reports last week that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE has considered removing Coats as his intelligence chief, though it was reportedly unclear if the president would actually take action to remove him.